March 18, 2009 Legislative Roundup

Days remaining in session: Three

Animal gas chambers: The Senate has approved a bill (HB265) that would eliminate the use of the gas chamber to euthanize stray dogs and cats.

“New Mexico has taken an important step in improving the lives of our stray animals by eliminating the use of the gas chamber for euthanasia,” supporter and Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, said in a statement. “I’m proud that the Senate supported a more humane method to euthanize our stray cat and dog population and provide the necessary resources for communities to make the transition.”

House Majority Leader Ken Martinez, D-Grants, is the bill’s sponsor.

Title insurance overhaul: New Mexicans will be able to shop for lower title insurance rates under legislation going to Gov. Bill Richardson.

A bill to revamp the title insurance system won final approval in the Legislature on Tuesday on a unanimous Senate vote.

Currently, state regulators determine the cost of title insurance and establish a uniform rate that all title insurance companies must charge.

Under the legislation, the state will set a price floor for title insurance but insurers can charge a lower rate if it’s approved by the superintendent of insurance.

People pay for title insurance when buying or refinancing a home.

“This bill, which will result in tangible savings for homebuyers and homeowners, is like a modest stimulus for New Mexico,” said Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico, which has long pushed for reforms, “and it is especially urgent given the current recession and housing crisis.”

Red light cameras: Revenue from new traffic-camera enforcement programs in Santa Fe and Las Cruces would be shared with the state under a bill approved by both houses of the Legislature.

SB519, introduced by Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, would amend a current state law that requires Albuquerque — or any other city with a population of 200,000 or more — to turn over most of the money it receives in fines through its camera program. If the governor signs the legislation that passed the House on Monday, the revenue-sharing